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The Buzzer: More Ovechkin history; Blue Jackets end skid

Week 18 around the NHL was filled with huge goals, wild saves and big brawls.

League-changing contract?

In case you missed it, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed superstar Auston Matthews to a beefy five-year extension. Should you be worried about the salary cap implications?

Three Stars

1. Brendan Gallagher

If the dwindling Ducks struggled in part because of the fatigue that comes with closing off a back-to-back, then credit Gallagher and the Habs for taking advantage of that waddling with a strong start.

Gallagher and fellow top-three star Jonathan Drouin did much of their damage in the first period of Tuesday’s 4-1 win. Gallagher scored a goal and two assists, with a goal and an assist in the opening frame, and then a secondary assist early in the third.

The rambunctious winger generated a +3 rating, two shots on goal, and two assists in that win. Gallagher now has 21 goals this season, building off a tremendous 31-goal campaign from 2017-18, when he was one of Montreal’s few bright spots. Things are sunnier these days.
[The Ducks’ nightmare continued on Tuesday thanks to the Canadiens.]

2. Anze Kopitar

While Gallagher and Drouin did their damage early, Kopitar was the catalyst of a dominant third period for Los Angeles.

All three of Kopitar’s assists came during the final frame, transforming a tied 1-1 game to a 5-1 laugher. Speaking of laughers, Kopitar set up a revenge goal for Ilya Kovalchuk. It also helps that Kopitar’s three assists were all primary ones.
[Read more about Kovalchuk’s return to New Jersey in this post.]

3. Jonathan Drouin

Like Kopitar, Drouin’s three assists were all of the primary variety. This thought gives him a slight advantage over another three-point performance in Roman Josi, as the Predators standout enjoyed a one-goal, two-assists output ... but his goal was an empty-netter.

(You have to split hairs with the three stars most nights.)

Drouin now has seven points in his past five games, giving him 39 points in 53 contests overall in his second season with Montreal.

Highlights of the Night

Patrice Bergeron had already scored a goal in his 1,000th game, but David Pastrnak earned serious Good Teammate Points by dropping this pass to him for an empty-netter. If you’ve had a bad Internet day or night, this might be precious enough to raise your spirits.

This is what scientists would call “trickeration.”

Some of the best goals happen when players combine in downright harmonic ways.

In this one, Sergei Bobrovsky makes a tough save on an aggressive Tyson Barrie. From there, Artemi Panarin fires off the sort of breakout pass that would inspire Erik Karlsson to tip his cap. After that, Cam Atkinson makes a fantastic move to score his 29th goal of the season.

Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks have been killing it in OT lately. This time, Burns set up Joe Pavelski for the clincher:


  • By grabbing an assist in Washington’s win against Vancouver, Alex Ovechkin reached 1,180 points in 1,055 regular-season games. That point total places him first all-time in points among Russian-born NHL players, breaking a tie with Sergei Fedorov. For more on Ovechkin’s milestone - and some kudos to Fedorov’s great career - check out this post.
  • Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 12 consecutive games, and the Blackhawks are heating up with five wins in a row. The league points out that Kane and Sidney Crosby are the only two active NHL players with four separate streaks of at least 12 points.
  • The Canadiens have been around for a long time, and they’ve deployed some of the greatest players and teams in NHL history. Even so, Jesperi Kotkaniemi became the first 18-year-old in Habs history to score a goal in three straight games.
  • Paul Maurice became the youngest coach to reach 1,500 games, as he’s just 52. If tougher times didn’t doom a coach with vampire-like staying power, then it’s hard to imagine Maurice fading anytime soon.


BOS 3 - NYI 1
BUF 5 - MIN 4 (SO)
STL 3 - FLA 2
LAK 5 - NJD 1
CAR 4 - PIT 0
WSH 3 - VAN 2
MTL 4 - ANA 1
VGK 3 - TBL 2 (SO)
NSH 5 - ARI 2
SJS 3 - WPG 2 (OT)
CBJ 6 - COL 3
CHI 6 - EDM 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.